Anorak News | The Gong Show

The Gong Show

by | 14th, July 2004

‘ASIDE from Tony Blair’s reasons for going to war in Iraq, the other big mystery in British politics is how the honours selection committee chooses whom should receive what gongs and when.

For services to texting

Just why did Blair’s old lollipop lady get an MBE for services to transport, while his PE teacher was awarded the loftier OBE, and his hairdresser the yet more coveted CBE?

These are questions that reach into the very heart of British politics and cause it to skip a beat.

But no more. The Telegraph reports that the Public Administration Committee wants the Order of the British Empire (OBE) should be replaced by a less imperialistic Order of British Excellence.

And, unless awarded at the Queen’s suggestion, knighthoods and damehoods should be phased out.

The committee also recommends the abolition of “automatic” honours for civil servants, who get to change the letterhead on their official notepads simply for doing their jobs.

A bad week for the Civil Service gets worse and worse as the committee also calls for the organisation’s highest ranking suits to be excluded from receiving more “exclusive” honours, like the Order of the Bath (created in the Middle Ages) and the Order of St Michael and St George (founded in 1818).

Having seen yesterday’s news about the cull in their numbers, very soon the only order civil servants will be in line for is the famous Order of the Boot.

But not everyone is in agreement that the honours system is outdated and anachronistic.

Jilly Copper OBE tells the Guardian that she is “thrilled I am going to be Empirish rather than Excellent”.

“Oh come on!” says Cooper. “Are they going to change the Victoria Cross to the Common Cross because they are so anti-monarchy? There is an obsession with semantics these days.”

Obsession or not, the Times hears the committee’s members explain the reasons for the call to abandon Empire.

“The title Order of the British Empire was now considered to be unacceptable, being thought to embody values that are no longer shared by many of the country’s population,” says the report, before harping on about an “inclusive society” and its “sensible adaptation” of past wrongs.

It’s all very worthy, we’re sure. But one more question concerns us – how does an MP make it onto this committee?

And what do you get for being on it? A medal – or just the title and kudos?’

Posted: 14th, July 2004 | In: Broadsheets Comment | TrackBack | Permalink